PAO polls, charter vote 'can be held simultaneously'

PAO polls, charter vote 'can be held simultaneously'

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Thursday said it is possible to hold provincial administrative organisation (PAO) elections and a national referendum on charter amendments at the same time to save money.

However, it remains to be seen how many referendums will have to be organised, he said, adding that a referendum may be held to determine a framework for charter changes as suggested by senators.

On Tuesday, the cabinet approved the PAO elections nationwide to be held within 60 days, or in December, as proposed by the EC.

The actual election date and timeline for the procedures will be announced by the EC later.

Concerns were raised as the EC had noted that polling would be around 60 days away from another vote so that the EC is able to organise elections properly.

Mr Wissanu said that when the charter amendment process is complete, another referendum will be needed for voters to decide whether to accept a charter amendment bill before it is submitted for royal endorsement.

He said that holding a referendum and PAO elections at the same time may be another option to consider.

However, potential problems may arise and cause confusion among the public, and it should be left to the Election Commission to study and fix them, Mr Wissanu said.

He went on to say that executives and members of the 76 PAOs nationwide will have to vacate office once the EC announces the date for the elections. Chief administrators of the PAOs will assume caretaker roles, Mr Wissanu said.

He also warned that those who fail to vote in the PAO elections without good reason will be deprived of certain rights, such as the right to apply to be an MP, local councillor or executives of local governing bodies.

Meanwhile, Sukit Attopakorn, adviser to the House speaker, said that officials have verified the names of 101,827 people who signed in support of a charter amendment bill proposed by civil group Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). Of the number, 98,824 were found to be correct, which is more than the constitutional requirement of 50,000 for the bill to go to parliament.

When parliament reconvenes on Nov 1, the bill proposed by iLaw is expected to be tabled for the first reading alongside the other six charter amendment bills proposed by the opposition and coalition parties, Mr Sukit said.

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